Programme: Fine Art - MA (Hons)

Year: 2001

Catherine graduated from the Fine Art - MA (Hons) programme at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in 2001 and is a visual artist who was writer-in-residence at the Talbot Rice Gallery during the British Art Show 8.

Tell us about your time at Edinburgh College of Art

I wanted to do a course that was both art history/theory and studio practice, and, at five years, Edinburgh's Fine Art programme was the longest so I went for that one after I finished high school. I think that finding people with similar interests was one of the best things about being at art college. I also got the opportunity to study astronomy in my first year - amazing!

Tell us about your creative practice

I make mainly installation and performance work - I like to create atmospheres that may be sensual, comical, disturbing - combining spoken audio recordings, drawings, written and performed texts, videos and performance.

I'm particularly interested in themes of transformation and the relationship between matter, thought, emotion and sensation. I've made work in a range of contexts from people's homes to old factories, and also in public galleries – sometimes making exhibitions and sometimes one-off events.

Collaboration is also important to me - I have an ongoing writing collaboration with the poet JL Williams and we're currently working with Edinburgh University's Talbot Rice Gallery on a TRG3 residency.

What did you like about ECA?

The Fine Art course introduced me to feminism (Amna Malik's course on contemporary art) - and to philosophy and cultural theory in general. Being encouraged to think critically and being taught the skills to help you engage critically with the world are the things I value most about my degree, and also the experience of finding that the ideas you're initially most resistant to can become the most valuable. I also discovered the artist Hans Bellmer, whose work has been really important to me, thanks to my dissertation tutor Elizabeth Cowling.

In terms of working as an artist I think it’s important to nourish your interests - what you find exciting, what you find challenging or worthwhile. I was too reticent about finding different things and people to engage with whilst I was at school and college – so I would say go and encounter as many different things that you can and find out about them – whether it's in visual art, music, theatre, dance, politics, science, literature, technology

Catherine Street, 2001Fine Art - MA graduate

Tell us about your experiences since leaving ECA

Since leaving ECA, I've combined my art practice with various part time jobs. I've travelled a fair bit, for example to make work elsewhere in Europe and further afield and worked with lots of people - exploring different practices - for example a couple of years ago I did a performance with the musician Greg Sinclair at Buzzcut festival of live art. I've had support in the form of grants from Creative Scotland and EVAAC, and have done a variety of residencies at, for example, SSW and Hospitalfield - both wonderful places that have helped me to develop.

What have been your biggest achievements since you graduated?

I was awarded an artist's bursary from Creative Scotland in 2013 which funded a year of intense development - which culminated in a solo exhibition and performances called Muscle Theory at the Reid Gallery in Glasgow. This brought together a variety of strategies and ideas that I had been working on for a while - for example a work-in-progress that I realised at Edinburgh's Project WAKAKA - and it was a fantastic opportunity to take over a whole space and realise something on a bigger scale than I had previously, with the curator, Jenny Brownrigg, with whom I share similar concerns.

Alumni wisdom

I was very lucky to study at a time when grants were still available and to graduate at a time of relative economic stability but I was still concerned about financial security; like many artists, cultivating some other skills and experience outside of the arts has been my approach to keeping afloat. In terms of working as an artist I think it’s important to nourish your interests - what you find exciting, what you find challenging or worthwhile. I was too reticent about finding different things and people to engage with whilst I was at school and college - so I would say go and encounter as many different things that you can and find out about them - whether it's in visual art, music, theatre, dance, politics, science, literature, technology... Engage with the artist-run spaces in Edinburgh - and if you can, get to Dundee, Glasgow, Newcastle, and the great arts organisations in rural Scotland - or anywhere else!


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